Guidelines WUR in relation to Corona outbreak

WUR guidelines and updates in relation to corona outbreak

Latest update: 1 April

Wageningen University & Research complies with measures advised and communicated by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the Dutch government, the local health authority GGD and the travel policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Here you can find more extended corona related news items

The FAQ list offers detailed answers to many questions

Are you viewing the page on your mobile? Scroll down for the measures until June 1, 2020.

Update 1 April 12:00 uur

Message of the executive board

Dear colleagues and students,

The corona outbreak affects us all. Primarily because of the concerns we have for our health, and that of our friends, colleagues and family. This is why WUR is making every conceivable effort to contribute to curbing the spread of this virus. 

WUR has taken measures that are unprecedented in the history of our organisation. Our lecture halls, laboratories and group session rooms are empty, there are no meetings in our buildings, and research activities have been scaled down.

Prolongation of an extraordinary situation

Parliament announced on Tuesday, 31 March, that the measures that are currently in place are beginning to show some effect, but that they must be prolonged for at least another month. The prime minister also indicated that he does not expect the situation to be normalised soon after. For WUR, this means that the previously announced measures will remain unabridged and in effect. In keeping with the other universities’ policies, we will stick to the end dates of 1 June and 1 August for the different measures.

In doing so, we heed the prime minister’s call to take responsibility. Should the situation show signs of improvement by 28 April, we will not hesitate to adjust our measures, but for now, it is advisable to prepare, both mentally and physically, for a lengthened period of restrictions in our work and studies.

We are aware that this has major implications for all members of our community. But we can overcome this difficult time together. Help each other and, with the help of all the modern tools and applications we have available, keep an eye on one another.

We will continue to keep you updated on new developments and measures. Keep an eye out for these updates. If you have questions, contact your supervisor or management. Check our FAQs, or, if your item is not included, reach out one of the email addresses available to assist staff and students or to info.corona@wur.nl.

We wish you all the best in this challenging time and thank you all for your efforts to keep all our activities going as best we can.

The executive board of Wageningen University & Research,

Louise O. Fresco

Arthur P.J. Mol

Rens Buchwaldt

Tools for working from home

Now that it has become apparent than we will be working from home for a longer period of time, more people may wish to temporarily make use of office hardware, such as screens and office chairs, in their home. If your supervisor grants permission and registers home use, this is permitted. Draw up a schedule for picking up hardware, so that the required hygiene and distancing requirements are met.

New updates

Two measures demand further elaboration. You will be informed in more detail at the end of this week:

Update 25 March at 12:00

No physical cursory education in P6

  • All cursory education and exams will take place online to and including the sixth period. The campus will be void of all educational activities during this period. With this measure, WUR adheres to the agreements made within the VSNU (the association of universities in the Netherlands).
    • Depending on the development of the pandemic in the Netherlands, the measures may be altered, possibly allowing some practical sessions to be held in the second half of P6.
  • Exceptions can be made for the laboratory and experimental work related to graduate courses. However, this requires permission from the chair holder.
    • Students needing to work in WUR buildings for the above purpose are urgently requested to adhere to the hygiene guidelines and to adhere to the prescribed distance to others.

Measures until 1 August

  • No work or study-related travel abroad;
  • PhD defences online only;
  • No inaugural ceremonies or farewell speeches;
  • No events on campus or other WUR locations.

Measures until 1 June

  • Limit physical meetings.
    • If meetings take place, all measures communicated by the RIVM must be strictly followed.
  • The working from home measure remain in effect. All employees are requested to work from home if possible. Buildings will open for essential work.
    • Employees and students needing to work in one of the WUR buildings are urgently requested to adhere strictly to the hygiene guidelines and to maintain the prescribed distance to others.
  • No external visitors without permission from the managing director;
  • Adjusted opening hours for all buildings;
  • Impulse Ontmoeting closed (offices are accessible);
  • Forum library closed;
  • Catering services closed.

Assistance with returning from abroad

Students and employees that are stranded abroad and want to return to the Netherlands can register on the newly launched platform www.bijzonderebijstandbuitenland.nl. This platform is a joint initiative of the national government, the travel sector, insurance branch and airline carriers. Previously communicated guidelines regarding repatriation remain in effect.

Watch out for cybercriminals

Please continue to stay alert for cybercriminals. Check what to watch out for in the intranet.

Update 23 March at 12:00

New travel guideline: Return home

(replaces all previously issued guidelines)

All students and employees currently outside of the Netherlands for study or business purposes are urgently requested to return to the Netherlands or their country of origin as soon as possible. International students in the Netherlands can and are advised to stay in the Netherlands.

These adjusted travel and lodging guidelines result from the recent developments in the global corona pandemic. The spread of the coronavirus is causing global challenges and disruptions of medical infrastructure and logistics systems. In short: travel is becoming increasingly difficult, and there is increasing pressure on health care systems.

Students not wishing to return, are requested to report to personalsupport.corona@wur.nl providing reasons for their non-compliance. In doing so, they waive further financial support for return on a later moment from WUR in their return. The general WUR travel insurance stays in place. We stress that all outgoing travel for internships, business and thesis work are prohibited until 1 August.

Additional expenses for repatriation

Students may face additional costs linked to a forced return. Wageningen University will provide financial support in these cases. Further information is available via: Contribution to travel expenses for students abroad. Students in dire financial need as a result of their expedited return can report to ssc@wur.nl.

Advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on organising return travel

  • Contact air travel carriers that fly to the Netherlands or Europe (or travel company, if relevant)
  • Make use of whatever flight possibilities are available.
  • If you are unable to depart: register at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs information service if you have not already done so. This will ensure the local embassy is aware of your presence in the country. You will receive information from the embassy on options such as additional flights made available by airline companies.
  • If you are unable to return, make sure a safe stay is guaranteed. If you run into issues, contact the local embassy through the contact centre of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, available 24/7 at  +31 247 247 247. This number can also be used for other questions you may wish to ask the local embassy.

Update 20 March at 12:00

BSA adjusted

Following a request of the Ministry of Education (OCW) to adapt the Binding Study Advise (BSA) for first year bachelor students for the current academic year 2019-2020, Wageningen University has developed new rules for this year’s BSA. These will be send to all first year bachelor students, study advisors and exam committees and included in the FAQ page. Details can be found on the BSA page.

E-mail address for student support

Students needing (practical and emotional) help and information during this corona crisis can now reach out to personalsupport.corona@wur.nl This e-mail box is designated for students currently staying abroad and wanting to return to the Netherlands, and international students in the Netherlands wanting to return home. Its primary goal is to offer emotional support and liaise with the correct people/organisations.

Events cancelled until 1 June

All events planned in WUR buildings or on WUR grounds until 1 June are cancelled, and if possible postponed until at least after the summer. The fifth edition of F&A Next, which was planned for 13 and 14 May, is postponed until next year. For this year, an alternative in the form of a short webinar on 13 May with a few exciting key-notes and start-up pitches is under development. Further information to follow on the F&A Next website.

#WURkfromhome

Show your colleagues and fellow students what it is like to work from home and post your home office on Instagram (uniwageningen) and Twitter (@WUR) under the hashtag #WURkfromhome. This way, we can still keep in touch with each other. The funniest, best and most unique tips will be shared on this website. You can also share with video.cs@wur.nl using @WURkfromhome in the subject line.

At least 90 per cent of P5-courses online

Every conceivable effort has been made to guarantee the continuation of our education. And successfully: of the 299 courses normally offered, at least 90 per cent is now available online. Only three intensive practical sessions were cancelled, and 270 classes have already started. The executive board congratulates the teachers and supporting staff with this spectacular achievement.

Update 19 March at 12:30

Opening hours WUR buildings

As of 23 March, the opening hours of WUR buildings will be adjusted. All buildings will be open from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm, Monday through Friday.

Exceptions:

Forum, Orion and Leeuwenborch are opened from 8.00 am to 7.00 pm due to the live recording of online courses. The libraries are closed but online collections are available.

WFSR and WBVR: due to the Statutory Research Tasks (WOT), opening hours are adjusted to the requirements of the work. WOT duties in other buildings are to be carried out within the new opening hours where possible. There is some room for exceptions.

Carus: opening hours adjusted to the requirements of the care for livestock.

Impulse Ontmoeting is closed for meetings. The offices in Impulse are accessible.

Buildings that are usually open on the weekend will continue to open, but from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm, except for Carus and locations with WOT commitments.

Cleaning is done within the opening hours where possible so that the buildings can close immediately at closing time.

Online courses throughout period 5

All courses for the entire duration of period 5 (P5) will be offered online, regardless of measures for the corona outbreak possibly being diminished or lifted. Exams will be offered online. This decision has been made to provide students and teachers with as much clarity as possible and to facilitate work and study planning.

The postponed practical sessions will be rescheduled at a later date. More information on the exams and practical sessions will follow. How we will proceed during the sixth period is to be decided based on the developments over the coming weeks.

Recovered employees

Employees who have recovered from a confirmed COVID-19 infection, or non-diagnosed symptoms such as shortness of breath, flu-like symptoms, or a common cold, WUR adheres to the RIVM/GGD policy. If all (!) symptoms have disappeared for over 24 hours, they may return to work on location if needed. Naturally, all limitations and regulations such as working from home as much as possible, continue to apply to prevent the spread of the virus.

PhD defence ceremonies

As of next week, 23 March, all PhD defence ceremonies will take place online. In consultation with their supervisor, candidates may elect to go ahead with a digital defence or to postpone the ceremony. If a postponement is desired, the ceremony will be rescheduled. The digital defence will follow the format of a regular ceremony to a large degree. This provision applies until 1 August. More information can be found on the intranet.

No new PhDs

Until at least 1 August 2020, no new PhD students will be granted physical access to Wageningen University. If so desired, a distance education set-up may be used to start new PhD trajectories, at the discretion of the supervisor. In such cases, all go/no-go rules and regulations continue to apply. At a later stage, we will develop a policy regarding the possible effects of the corona crisis for PhD candidates who have already started their PhD trajectories before 20 March 2020. More information can be found on the intranet.

BACs

Broad Assessment Committees (BACs) will continue digitally where possible. The BAC chair will assess with the managing director and -if needed- the Rector Magnificus, whether this is desirable. Postponement is recommended if the quality of the BAC process cannot be safeguarded or if the candidate so desires. The postponement period will be added to the time in between the Tenure Track steps. More information can be found on the intranet.

Inaugural addresses and farewell speeches

All inaugural and farewell addresses are cancelled until 1 August and will be postponed to a later date. We will contact the professors it concerns to set an alternative date.

Update 18 March at 13:00

Working from home and extraordinary leave (overruled by the update of 25 March)

The measures that WUR is taking to contribute to reducing the spread of Covid-19 will run until 6 April. However, it is realistic to assume that circumstances may compel us to extend these measures for a longer period of time.

That means we need to be prepared for a situation where employees will be tied to their home for a longer period of time for a variety of reasons.

The executive board has taken a number of measures that enable employees to take (paid) extraordinary leave when staying home is unavoidable. All employees will receive a letter about this today via the OneWageningen email address. For specific questions, you can contact hr.servicedesk@wur.nl

Take care of each other

Another important point of attention is caring for each other. When you notice that things seem to be going less well with a colleague or fellow student (at home or abroad), because someone seems to become isolated, is sick or is otherwise vulnerable or worried. Contact him or her for moral support or practical help.  And involve your supervisor, co-workers, fellow students or teacher. The company doctor, company social work (bedrijfsmaatschappelijkwerk@wur.nl) and the student service center (ssc@wur.nl) are also ready to provide help.

Support to study from home: New course

To help all students get through the coming weeks in which they are not able to meet (on campus), we created the ‘Corona and my education’ course page on Brightspace. We advise all students to join this course because it helps to switch from on-campus to online education. You will find practical information on how to study from home and an online hang-out where students can reach out to each other. More information can be found here. Additionally, all students receive access to Skype for Business. More information about using Skype will be provided here later.

Update 17 March at 13:30

Message Dutch prime minister

The Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte addressed the nation on 16 March, to provide further details on the measures the government has taken. He stated that: ‘All recommendations issued to date are based on the first scenario of “maximum control”. From relatively simple measures such as avoiding handshakes and maintaining a 1.5 meter distance, to far-reaching decisions such as closing the catering sector. (..) How long these measures will remain in place, and whether or not more stringent steps are needed, depends mainly on how the virus will conduct itself in the coming weeks or months. (..) Some measures may be lifted, but others may have to be strengthened as an additional step in preventing the virus from spreading unhindered. We will continue to tailor our response over the coming months, seeking a balance between allowing normal life to continue as usual, and taking whatever measures are needed. If we are able to guide the spreading of the virus, the public health consequences will stay within our grasp.’

The WUR executive board supports the prime-ministers call and urges students and employees to adhere to the measures imposed by the government both in letter and spirit. Only thus can each of us contribute. Our FAQs provide answers to the most common questions, and we will continue to update our internet and intranet pages with the most up-to-date information and guidelines. Our efforts to safeguard the continuity of our education and research are undiminished, and we welcome any innovative ideas that may help us achieve this goal.

Let our WUR community rise to the occasion and help each other in these difficult times by paying extra attention to those in need.

Extra information on avoiding domestic travel

Our policy aims to reduce contact as much as possible to curb the spread of the virus. Travel that can be undertaken without coming in contact with other people, or trips that are unavoidable due to our Statutory Research Tasks, may continue after consultation with management.

Students who have questions about their enrollment, internship or courses can reach out to ssc@wur.nl. Questions of a more general nature can be directed at info.corona@wur.nl.  

Update 16 March at 13:30

Extra travel restrictions (overruled by the update of 23 March)

Travel restrictions for staff and students have been tightened. All business and study-related travel are now prohibited, with the exception of commuter travel where physical presence on location is required.

Staff and students currently residing abroad are urgently requested to stay updated on the news from both their host country and the Netherlands. In case there is any reason to question your personal safety, you are requested to return to the Netherlands immediately. Stay informed on the travel possibilities, an increasing number of flights are cancelled. This could also prompt an early return.

Effect on research

The taken measures also have an effect on research performed by Wageningen University & Research. WUR is doing everything within its power under the current circumstances, in order to meet its contractual obligations and to meet the planning agreed to perform its obligations, also in view of the social importance of our research. Read the full update for our partners here. Practical tools for projectleaders can be found on intranet.

Update 15 March at 18:30

Dealing with school closure

The government has issued a set of additional measures regarding the COVID-19 crisis on Sunday 15 March at 5.30 pm. One of these measures is the decision to close all primary and high schools immediately. This decision directly impacts employees whose children go to school. We count on the flexibility of these employees, their colleagues and managers to find appropriate solutions.

In some cases, this may not be possible at such short notice. Wageningen University & Research allows employees who are stuck at home and unable to work, a three day period for which they need not take leave. In the coming days, we will issue long term measures for our organisation and/or follow government guidelines as they become available.

For WFSR and WBVR staff, we have requested an exemption so that these employees can continue using schools and child care facilities. Further information will follow.

Update 13 March

Message from the executive board

The measures announced by WUR on 13 March will remain in effect, at least until 6 April, per the newly published date. On 12 March, the government announced stringent measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The executive board follows the developments closely. This outbreak calls for unprecedented personal and collective responsibility. We must adhere to strict rules of personal hygiene and exercise caution in our social contact to prevent spreading the disease. This will affect our daily routines.

At the same time, we must pay extra attention to those who are concerned about additional risks for themselves or their loved ones. We are aware that our international community is now faced with uncertainty over the well-being of their friends and family at home. Our mutual solidarity will enable us to face this crisis and find suitable solutions. We understand that these measures profoundly affect staff and students, and we are aware that many of you have questions or feel uncertainties.

Please know that we will make every conceivable effort in the coming weeks to solve these problems. We are facing this challenge together, and we count on your support and personal efforts to bring this situation to a satisfactory conclusion. And should you have questions, please do not hesitate. We are always available to answer your questions (info.corona@wur.nl) or check the FAQs.

On behalf of the executive board, Louise O. Fresco, president.

Update 12 March

Working from home

We ask all students and staff to work from home as much as possible. Crucial functions in our organisation, such as the maintenance of the IT network or caring for livestock, require the presence of staff. Consult with your supervisor if physical presence is absolutely needed and how you can best carry out your duties. This may mean your working hours have to change temporarily. Where no agreement can be reached, management will make a decision.

Education (overruled by the update of 25 March)

To and including 6 April all educational activities will be online only. Stay up to date about your courses via Brightspace. Updates on educational activites are placed in the FAQs.

Buildings and events (overruled by the update of 19 March)

WUR buildings are still opened but entry is regulated. Not all facilities are opened. All events on Wageningen Campus and in WUR buildings are cancelled. The public defense of doctoral theses will continue for the time being, however, additional measures are taken. Stay up to date via the FAQs.

Questions

Check the FAQs for WUR students and employees or this page for the latest updates. Check here whom to contact for what. Or reach out to info.corona@wur.nl.

Have more (general) questions? The RIVM has opened a hotline for questions: 0800-1351.